Distinguishing Between Normal Teenage Angst and Clinical Depression

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It is not uncommon to hear stories about a teenager experiencing mood swings and rebelling against those in authority. Nor is it uncommon to experience general sadness or anxiety in high school and college. However, it is often difficult to tell the difference between normal teenage angst and clinical depression. It is not commonly known that there has recently been a staggering rise of depression in adolescents. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in twelve adolescents in the United States suffer from depression, which is 8.3 % of the teenage population. In order to combat the problem of adolescent depression, it is essential that parents take an active role in their adolescent’s life by both acknowledging and …show more content…
One theory, argued by Peter Gray, a research psychologist at Boston College, is that the rise in adolescent depression is due not only to the adolescent’s feeling of lack of control over his or her life but also a shift from intrinsic goals to extrinsic goals. Gray explains that teenagers in our modern society do not feel as if they have control over their lives even though it may appear that we do have more control over factors such as disease and wealth. Julien Rotter’s questionnaire is used to measure a person’s sense of control, and Gray points out that the scores of modern day indicate that the average young person in 2002 was more “external” than were “80% of the young people in the 1960’s.” This means that teenagers today have the attitude that what is supposed to happen will, indicating a sense of lack of control over a situation, which is one of the main reasons depression and anxiety occur. (Gray, Dramatic Rise) Along with this idea, Gray references Jean Twenge when he argues that there has been a shift from more personal goals to more worldly goals in teenagers. Twenge found that more adolescents are forming extrinsic goals, or “those that have to do with material rewards and other people’s judgments” rather than intrinsic goals which have to do with “one’s own development as a person.” Because
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